Allan Dizioli, Mr. Jaime Guajardo, Mr. Vladimir Klyuev, Rui Mano, and Mr. Mehdi Raissi
After many years of rapid expansion, China’s growth is slowing to more sustainable levels and is rebalancing, with consumption becoming the main growth driver. This transition is likely to have negative effects on its trading partners in the near term. This paper studies the potential spillovers to the ASEAN-5 economies through trade, commodity prices, and financial markets. It finds that countries with closer trade linkages with China (Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand) and net commodity exporters (Indonesia and Malaysia) would suffer the largest impact, with growth falling between 0.2 and 0.5 percentage points in response to a decline in China’s growth by 1 percentage point depending on the model used and the nature of the shock. The impact could be larger if China’s slowdown and rebalancing coincides with bouts of global financial volatility. There are also opportunities from China’s rebalancing, both in merchandise and services trade, and there is preliminary evidence that some ASEAN-5 economies are already benefiting from these trends.
This paper takes an in-depth look into recent trade patterns to assess the extent of such concerns. It is found that (i) there is no strong evidence of Dutch Disease; (ii) weak performance in some sectors, so far, does not appear to be linked to the commodity boom; and (iii) although further reliance on commodities has increased Indonesia’s vulnerability to export price volatility, the terms of trade have actually been rather stable as import and export prices co-move markedly, mitigating such vulnerability.
Primary commodities still account for the bulk of exports in many developing countries. However, real commodity prices have been declining almost continuously since the early 1980s and there is evidence of renewed weakness. The appropriate policy response to a terms of trade shock depends importantly on whether the shock is perceived to be temporary or permanent. Our results indicate that the recent weakness in commodity prices is mostly of a secular nature, stressing the need for commodity exporting countries to concentrate on export diversification and other structural policies. There is, however, scope for stabilization funds and the use of hedging strategies since the evidence also suggests commodity prices have become more volatile.